I usually give people the benefit of the doubt when they are accused of wrong-doing... I at least hear someone out before I believe that they are guilty of a particular crime. However, this news story by Reuters has me questioning my current philosophy: "I was just hunting UFOs, says Pentagon's UK hacker."
According to the story, "[Thirty-nine-year-old Briton Gary] McKinnon broke into computers at the Pentagon, NASA, and the Johnson Space Center - as well as systems used by the U.S. army, navy and air force [over the span of two years]. U.S. officials say he caused $700,000 worth of damage and even crippled vital defense systems shortly after the September 11 attacks." Why would McKinnon do this? Is he a hard-core criminal mastermind, attempting to put the U.S. security at risk by committing "the biggest military computer hack of all time"?
McKinnon defends his actions, "'My main thing was wanting to find out about UFOs and suppressed technology,' he said, insisting his intention was not to cause damage. 'I wanted to ... find out stuff the government wouldn't tell you about... I was completely obsessed. I was completely addicted. It was like a huge game, but I was getting very paranoid.'"
McKinnon was arrested by British police in March 2002. "The unemployed computer programmer is now battling extradition to the United States, where, if found guilty, he faces up to 70 years in jail and fines of up to $US1.75 million. His lawyer fears he could even be sent to Guantanamo Bay."
Did he at least find out some good information? "He said he came across a group called the 'Disclosure Project', which had expert testimonies from senior figures who said technology obtained from extra-terrestrials did exist... 'I saw what I'm convinced was some kind of satellite or spacecraft but it was manufactured by no means I have ever seen before -- there were no rivets, no seams, it was like one flawless piece of material. And that was above the Earth.'"
With the next stage of McKinnon's legal battle taking place on May 10, 2006, I think we'll be hearing more stories from him that are out of this Earth. "[McKinnon] hints that whatever happens, he has a lot more to tell."
Do you buy the alien story, or do you think McKinnon's cover sounds a little spaced out?
Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.